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How to give kids more freedom yet keep them safe

(3 Posts)
christie2 Sun 09-Aug-09 14:48:18

This summer we have my dd and ds (ages 12 and 11) home this summer, no camps or anything. We are trying to give them so freedom so we have started letting them wander around the neighborhood where their school is (next to ours and about an eight minute drive ). Sometimes they take the bus (I walk them to the bus and get them on) or I drop them off and do errands. They love it, and just hang out, have a hot chocolate, there is a playground or go to the library also there. Sadly, I was hoping they would run into school friends but no other kids are out in the neighborhood and their own friends are all away at camps or on holidays. The oldest has the mobile and we meet up at a prearranged spot and I take the home.

Bear in mind I am extremely over-protective by nature so I am forcing myself to do this. The oldest has a life threatening peanut allergy that made me worse but she knows how to handle herself.

But last night it didn't work. We were going to meet in a park where there was a small festival. The kids wanted to be dropped off 6:30 and meet up at 7pm in the park at the start of the festival. I was not keen as it was night and lots of strangers in the neighborhood for the festival. Dh said it was fine so I agreed. No meet up spot was agreed but dh had his mobile and said he would call them when we arrived and tell them where to meet us.

So we are half way to the festival when dh says he forgot the mobile in the car so I send him back to get it and continue on and wait by a play structure hoping they will assume we are there (as we have the younger kids with us.) While waiting for dh, I spot dd who is alone. She has the mobile but no ds with her so we now have no way to contact him and no pre-arranged meet up spot. There are a couple of thousand people mulling around and it's getting dark.

Of course I freak out. DH shows up and by chance ds smartly goes back to the play structure and sees us so we are reunited. DD response to it all is upsetting, she left ds at the play structure and walked away to find her friend (although they are told to stay together) because ds didn't want to go looking for her friend. DS said she just walked away and left him, dd said she assumed he would stay put. When I asked her how she thought we would find him if she had the mobile and no meet up spot, she just shrugged.

So, what do I do. Are they not ready? Ds was impressive really, returning to the play structure and said he was looking for lost child place as well. DD, who is supposed to be in charge, was defensive about it all.

Any suggestions? Do I continue to let them out on their own? Anyone do things I might try with their kids to give them more street smarts and freedom? We live in an urban city not a rural area. Our neighborhood has drug issues and very urban so I send them to them to the next one which is wealthier and more residential (and they go to school there too).

Any advice appreciated!

CybilLiberty Sun 09-Aug-09 14:51:09

Yes keep sending them out.

How will they ever learn to keep themselves safe if they are never exposed to any 'danger'? If we carried on that trian of thought we would never teach our children to cross the road themselves , 'just in case'. They both sound very sensible.

it sounds as though you need to keep reminding yourself that they will be okay as long as they can be contacted or vice versa.

christie2 Sun 09-Aug-09 14:54:47

I think you are right. My dd response worried me that she was not ready but maybe that is just the tweenie attitude. I need to remind myself I did think she was ready. It is more about me than them and I need to let go a little.

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